Megazoidal 2001 / MoonJune 2013
Acquiring a new multitude of voices, fusion master unfolds one of the most unusual vistas of his career.
The sound and manner of Allan Holdsworth have been easily recognizable since he left IGGINBOTTOM and spread his wings in jazz-rock skies, but on the cusp of the new millennium the veteran felt an urge for a change – in gears both emotional and instrumental. Organic as he is, Allan found an outlet and a challenge in SynthAxe, a MIDI-controller that allowed him operate a synthesizer by playing strings on the fret the usual way – with an unusual result: a quasi-orchestral effect, rich on harmonies and abstract imagery, most impressive in the 9-minute finale of “Don’t You Know.” Such detachment dictates the “Music For A Non-Existent Movie” subtitle of this album to set it further apart from the rest of Holdsworth’s records, given their high cinematic profile.
The duality of it all is revealed when “The Duplicate Man” intro, played on a real guitar, pours its anxious melancholy into the riffy elegy to be rippled with fanfare-like chords and plastic percussion. Fusion fidgets into dance domain here while remaining too elusive to cut the rug… Or the tapestry which gets brilliantly glacial in the slow “Snow Moon,” dusted in the second half with samba-like rhythm, and becomes slithery, if crystalline, on “Eeny Meeny,” where Dave Carpenter’s bass sparsely fathoms the almost invisible depth to reappear in “Bo Beep” that turns bebop on its modal head. In the same, albeit more melodious, vein, the enchanting ballad “Please Hold On” aspires to a trumpet sunrise glory, so bright on this “sonically reenhanced” reissue, and “So Long” takes progressively romantic shape as it rolls on. Meaning that tired all of this may be, but it surely ain’t flat.